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NJ Spotlight on Cities: ‘The Prize’ Author to Lead Panel on Newark Schools

Teachers, educators and students will offer their take on what has changed – and what has remained the same – in city’s classrooms

dale russakoff
Dale Russakoff

Few books have shaken up the education establishment in New Jersey quite like “The Prize.”

Written by former Washington Post reporter Dale Russakoff, the best-selling book released this summer is an unsparing accounting of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to the state-run Newark public schools -- and all the drama and politics that surrounded it.

Now, NJ Spotlight provides a new take, as Russakoff joins our ”NJ Spotlight on Cities” conference tomorrow at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to moderate her own discussion of the book with those on the frontline of the topic: teachers and educators.

What do they think? How has education changed in the five years since the Zuckerberg gift was announced on “Oprah” and touted as a transformative force in the city’s public education? And how have things not changed in Newark’s schools in the ensuing years?

Russakoff will be back in the reporter’s seat, posing questions to several key figures in her book: Dominique Lee, head of the innovative Brick Avon School in the Newark district; Joanna Belcher, a leader in the KIPP charter school network; and Princess Fils Aime, a kindergarten teacher who proved to be a hero in Russakoff’s narrative.

And those attending the conference will get an extra bonus, immediately after the Russakoff-led discussion, when two students from model high schools in the district -- Dennis Rodriguez, a student at the Newark Leadership Academy, and Aaliyah Armani Barnes from Newark’s Bard High School -- will offer their perspectives on growing up on the city and attending its schools.

In addition, throughout the conference, we will solicit questions that you want answered by panelists and others about New Jersey and the fate of our cities.

The conference is focusing on education, economic development, and quality of life, but we are open to all inquiries and hope to include them throughout the day and into the future.

Feel free to post questions or comments at the end of this article, or write to us at oncities@njspotlight.com.

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